Q5: Fake or Real News

9. Search Strategies


Do you know which sites are reporting the truth? Can you tell the difference between real and fake information? When a story is big news, it is often quick to spread. The spread of fake news is often through circular reporting. Fake news spins a tall tale, often seen through our own biases or filter bubbles. How do we know when it’s fact or fiction?  

Key Vocabulary

Embellish: To embellish is to tell stories that are more interesting or entertaining by adding extra details, especially ones that are not true.

Circular Reporting: Circular reporting or false confirmation is a situation where a piece of information appears to come from multiple independent sources, but in fact is coming from only one source.

Filter Bubbles: Filter bubbles according to Dr Seargeant,"are implicated in the spread of fake news because they create conditions in which one-sided and extreme opinions can freely circulate and where information is not easily challenged".

Paparazzi: Paparazzi are photographers who follow famous people to get images for newspapers, magazines, social media, or other outlets.

I Can Statements

  • tell the difference between real and fake news
  • factcheck an article


Fake news has been around a long time, with journalists or the paparazzi stretching the truth to sell their stories. Consider the true story about two very famous rival newspaper owners in the 1890's, William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. These men fought for the attention of their readers by liberally embellishing stories to sell newspapers. 

Today journalism is not much different, with the television media filled with entertainment news, reality TV, and the spread of sensationalized stories on social media. Due to the speed that news can now travel, circular reporting is a new phenomenon that is causing the quick spread of fake news. 

1. Watch this video on "How False News Can Spread" and learn more about circular reporting. 

How to Spot Fake News

2. Circular reporting, or the spread of fake news, can often cause a filter bubble, or a place where our own biases allow fake news to continue to spread with no one questioning the source.  During this Quest, you are asked to pop the filter bubble by spotting and defeating the spread of fake news.

filter bubble

3. Watch the video and read through the infographic below. These are things you should be looking for as you read articles on the Internet to help you tell the difference between real and fake news. 

How to Spot Fake News

3. Let’s pop the filter bubble by questioning what we read! With a partner do a search on stealing water from the Great Lakes. Find at least two articles on this topic. Using the criteria in the poster above read through the articles and determine how accurate and real the reporting is. Use a word processing program to share with your teacher the answers to your questions. 

Answer the following questions:

  • Who wrote the article? Are they credible or real?
  • What is the copyright date of the article? Are the facts reported matching the copyright date?
  • Are there supporting sources? Do the links actually support the story?
  • Have experts in the field been connected to the story or authored the information?

4. Share the names and web links to the articles you read with your teacher. Be sure to include the answers to each of the questions in Steps One-Four above.

Fact Check Political Stories

Every day there are political news stories that are published that are deceptive and misleading. FactCheck.org is an excellent site for you to use to check whether or not the political article you just read is accurate. The site monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.

5. Your assignment is to visit to a popular news site such as CNN, ABC News, Huffington Post, or Fox News. Find a trending political news story. (you might want to find the same story on one or more news sites)

6. Next go to FactCheck.org and see if the story is listed on the site. If not, go back and look for another story to check on FactCheck. 

7. Use a word processing program to answer the following questions. 

  • What does FactCheck say about your story?
  • How accurate is the reporting? 

8. If you feel your story seems to be fake and you do not find anything on FactCheck, the site does have Ask a Question. You can ask your question by filling out a short form. You will have to give an email address. If you don't have one, ask your teacher if you can use his/hers to have FactCheck email the answer.

9. Share the story's headline and its URL with your teacher along with FactCheck's facts about the story. If you sent FactCheck a question, include the question and the answer once you have received it. 

Completing this Quest

Save all your activities in your File Space. After completing, continue using the handy tips you learned for knowing what is real or fake. You can help by not passing on fake news to your friends and family.

I have completed the Quests as assigned by my teacher. 

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Websites and Applications



Competencies & Standards

MITECS   Michigan Integrated Technology Competencies for Students, and

ISTE Standards for Students

2. Digital Citizen
a. cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world
b. engage in postive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online

3. Knowledge Constructor
a. plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits
b. evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.